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by Alaskan Dude
Article by John Mackinnon
The Realism painting style depicts life as it actually appears without added glorification, drama or emotion. This movement attempts to keep the artist’s interpretation to a bare minimum. The idea is to present life in its natural environment which often includes the ordinary, the mundane and even the ugly.
Any message that seems to emanate from a realistic painting is meant to be a direct result of what was actually happening at that specific moment in time. It is, however, in keeping with this style for the artist to manipulate compositional elements for the purpose of more clearly communicating the truth of an event without changing its meaning or scope.
This style of painting originated in the mid 1800s in France as a reaction to the predominate Romantic movement of that time. This period also coincided with the development of photography. French artist Gustave Courbet is considered to be the father of the realistic style. His famous painting, A Burial at Ornans, depicts the 1848 funeral of a relative and is generally credited with kicking off this artistic style.
Other significant artists that incorporated realism painting techniques in their work include; Jean Baptist Simeon Chardin, Charles-Francois Daubigny, Francisco Goya, Winslow Homer, Edward Manet, John Singer Sargent and Andrew Wyeth just to name a few.
A partial list of other subcategories of realism include:
Naturism is a term that is sometimes used interchangeably with the broad term realism. Real subjects and events are painted in their natural settings.
Hyper-Realism or Photo-Realism plays extreme attention to accurately displaying absolutely every minute detail of a subject. The end result can resemble an oversized, sharply focused photograph.
Classical Realism is a relatively modern movement that attempts to return the realistic painting methods and craftsmanship of pre 20th Century artists. Artists rely only on their observational skills without the use photography.
Fantastic Realism attempts to use the realistic techniques of the old master painters (before 1828) with added religious symbolism.
Social Realism grew out of the great American Financial Depression of the 1930s. The intent of these works of art was to realistically depict the devastating struggles and injustice of that era.
Romantic Realism renders its subjects realistically but with the freedom to add the possibilities of how things could be or even should be based on traditional romantic ideology.
Tips For Painting In The Style Of Realism:
1. Think of yourself as a news photographer. Your job is not necessarily to join a cause or take sides. Your work should involve accurately and clearly communicating a snapshot of everyday life for the average Joe. Do not let your emotions tempt you to represent people in a flattering way. Paint what is actually there and let the chips fall where they may. This can be a wonderful exercise for learning to see like a true artist.
2. Paint realistically by paying attention to representing color, proportions, perspective and other critical elements as true to the moment as possible.
3. Use any medium that lends itself to painting realistically. Oil and acrylic paints tend to dominate but there is nothing wrong with experimenting with pastels, pencils, markers or pen and ink.
4. Start with using earthy colors that are dominant in nature such as variations on yellow and brown.
5. Gain a commanding grasp of the fundamentals of painting. So often talented but self-taught amateurs produce paintings that are not carefully crafted. Even small inaccuracies in perspective, for example, can absolutely destroy the illusion of realism. Consider going to a formal painting school or purchasing a thorough video painting course on DVD.
For the serious art student, learning realism painting styles should be a mandatory part of their education. The fundamental skills and techniques needed to successfully paint in this style will always come in handy even when the time comes to experiment with less realistic painting styles.
Image taken on 2008-06-13 20:18:12 by James Jordan.
night and candle light portraiture.
People often get the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles muddled up. I did it myself when I was a student. The first thing to do is understand the patterns, colours and designs of each era. This article on Art Nouveau will detail the patterns, motifs, colours and influences of this era. A concise outline of the Art Nouveau movement will give you some knowledge to help you make informed decisions.
The Art Nouveau movement lasted for about thirty years until 1910. This was a style were natural forms were used for inspiration and used in an original way. The most popular Art Nouveau motif was peacock feathers. The hallmark of the style are the curved undulating lines known as whiplash lines, plant like forms and highly stylised curvilinear designs. The style is often described as sinuous, rhythmical and dream like.
Motifs and Patterns
Floral motifs (often abstracted)
Delicate female forms
Flowers, (Poppy, wisteria, water lilies, Japanese lotus….)
Colours were muted and delicate. Natural vegetable dyes were used in wallpaper, chintzes and other materials. Art Nouveau is considered by many as primary a decorative style. The influence of Japanese print is also evident in the designs.
Stylised long stemmed poppies and lilies
Lancet shaped leaves
Stencils were also used. The Stencil Library at www.stencil-library.com is a great resource for Art Nouveau stencil patterns. They have a brilliant range from many historical eras. In 1904 Cowtan and Sons an English decorating company used flatten white or enameled white paint. This treatment was also used by Charles Rennie MacIntosh who created a number of white rooms.
Art Nouveau tiles
Pictorial tiles during Art Nouveau era were popular in Belgium and France. Illustrations by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha were used as the basis for the designs. This influence did not appear in England until 1920’s and 1930’s. The Art and Craft influence continued in the States.
However the use of plain tiles was also popular. Victor Horta in his own house in Brussels (now the Horta Museum) used plain white tiles on the walls and the ceiling in a brick like fashion.
Tube- lining was used to create motifs on plain tiles. The technique used similar to piping icing on a cake. The raised lines of the pattern give the tile a 3D appearance. Kenneth Clark Ceramics has a tube -lining tulip border tile available.
Plain tiles or individual tile designs set among plain tiles
Patterned tiles were mainly used in a row at dado height or as a random insert
Highly stylized abstracted floral tiles
Art Nouveau style panels were used to create complete interiors in Europe
Panels also on facades of buildings
In America and England individual floral designs on individual tiles or arranged in small panels up to dado height.
The Rookwood Pottery in Cincinnati Ohio, Carter & Co and Poole Pottery in Dorset England, the Yorkshire Tile Company and Minton Hollins are some of the firms who have produced Art Nouveau tiles.
One of the icon items of Art Nouveau era is the Tiffany lamp created by Louis Tiffany. He studied art and went on to set up the interior decorating firm of Louis Tiffany & Associated Artists in New York. The firm still decorated in the Victorian styles with Arts and Craft influences. In 1885 the main focus of the business was glass art work so a new name was created Tiffany Glass Company. Tiffany designed windows for American churches for example Trinity Church Boston. They also moved into designing art glass for homes, clubs and other corporations.
The ‘Four Seasons’ glass panels establish an international reputation for Tiffany. His work was displayed in Bing’s Art Nouveau shop in Paris. His work included landscape, floral and semi abstract designs. Vases, bowls, paper weights were design in iridescent colourful glass called Favrile, Cyprite, Cameo and Lava.
Tiffany lamps were made from metal bases with glass shades similar to stained glass and leadlight windows. Designs were natural forms, peacock feathers and insect wings. Some of the names of Tiffany’s work include ‘Trumpet Creeper’ lead glass and bronze table lamp and his ‘Peacock’ and ‘Cockatoo’ glass panels, an electric light with a coloured shade called ‘Dragon Fly’
Art Nouveau had an impact on silver ware, pewter, painting, sculpture posters, advertising and ceramics design. When looking for decorative items remember to select items with beautiful flowing lines and curved forms.
Eco Friendly Way
Interior decorating in older styles can be a very eco friendly way to decorate. Visiting second hand shops, antique deals, garage sales and looking online can be a great way to find your Art Nouveau treasures. The most important thing is to have a clear idea of what you want, what you want to spend before you start looking. I recently saw some tiles from this era for sale on eBay at a very reasonable price.
Parquetry was often used in the Art Nouveau era. However Horta used mosaic tiles in swirling S curved patterns on the floor of his Tassel house. Linoleum was also popular. The trendy colours in matting in early 20th century were natural, white, olive and light brown
The Axminister loom was invented in USA in 1876. Brinton in England developed the Gripper version in 1890. These inventions allowed large carpets to be made in unlimited colours. Floral designs became the hallmark of British designers. Owen Jones’ book the ‘Dictionary of Ornament’ 1856 and Christopher Dresser’s ‘Principles of Design’ in 1879 continued to influence design. As did William Morris’ designs in particular the acanthus leaves and poppies design.
The Main Features of the Art Nouveau Style
Muted delicate colours
Flowing curved lines
Stained glass panels
Furniture with curving lines and rounded forms
Upholstery in Art Nouveau themes
Smooth plain tiles
Stenciled walls and ceilings
Unfortunately Art Nouveau has been a most misunderstood style and is often dismissed as a decorative side line. Yet the original work of architects Hector Guimard in France and Victor Horta in Belgium is easy to recognise. Many of Victor Horta’s buildings are now on the World Heritage list. In Vienna Josef Hoffman developed the ‘Vienna Secession’ movement influenced yet different from Art Nouveau. This style was less curvaceous more rectilinear and straight lined in its forms. Charles Rennie MacIntosh, in Scotland, Antionia Gaudi in Spain and Louis Sullivan and Tiffany in the US each developed and expressed a form of Art Nouveau. There was a revival of Art Nouveau in the 1960’s and exhibitions of the style continue to inspire new generations.